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What Happened to Otis Zvonecek on Chicago Fire?

Brian "Otis" Zvonecek was a key part of Firehouse 51 for 8 seasons. 

By Megan Lasher

Brian "Otis" Zvonecek (Yuri Sardarov) was treated like everyone's little brother throughout his tenure on Chicago Fire. From his close friendship with Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso) to being roommates with Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Leslie Shay (Lauren German), Otis was a huge part of the Firehouse 51 family. 

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Watch Chicago Fire Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC and next day on Peacock.

Relive some of the best Otis moments before his tragic Season 8 death, which was undeniably one of One Chicago's most tear-jerking moments

Otis's Firefighter Podcast

His connections to the rest of Firehouse 51 made Otis the perfect person to host a podcast telling the tales of all of their rescues. In Season 1, Episode 7 ("Two Families") Randy "Mouch" McHolland (Christian Stolte) appeared as a guest on the podcast, giving audiences a first taste of the show.

A very confused and intentionally goofy Mouch didn't answer many of Otis's questions directly, but the podcast came together at the end of the episode. "I'm thankful because I can have two families, and not many people can say that," Otis said as voiceover in his recorded show. 

Later, in Season 1, Episode 13 ("Warm and Dead"), Otis met a group of firefighters in Morningside who loved his podcast, revealing that he was more popular than Firehouse 51 recognized. The group praised Otis and told him his jokes were funny, saying "I've never laughed that hard."

They even let him drive their firetruck to a call — a big difference from the "pesky little brother" vibe with which Otis was treated at Firehouse 51. Otis put in a transfer request to the Morningside group, but ultimately stayed at 51 for six more seasons, realizing that his fire family's tough love was part of their special dynamic. 

Otis's Romantic Relationship History

Chicago Fire Otis Recap Katie

In Season 2, Episode 11 ("Shoved in My Face"), Otis flirted Severide's half-sister, Katie Nolan (Brittany Curran). The two bonded over the board game Settlers of Catan and Nolan asked Otis to come to dinner. They dated for a few episodes (with Severide's approval) until she became the victim of a kidnapping. 

In Episode 14 ("Virgin Skin") Nolan told Severide and Otis that the trauma she endured left a lasting mark, and she needed to get some extra support in Colorado. The couple's short-lived romance showed more of Otis's sweet personality and he was of course supportive of her decision to do what was best for her. 

Later, when paramedic Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) joined the team, Otis developed a new crush. Throughout Season 4, he slowly realized that the feelings were not reciprocated, and when he asked Brett for dinner he finally got the answer he needed to move on. 

Otis later ended up dating Lily (Ariane Rinehart), who first appeared in Season 6, Episode 6 ("Down is Better"). Her father sold his bar to Herrmann to be called "Molly's North," and she helped run it until Otis's death.  

Otis and Cruz's Friendship

Chicago Fire Otis Recap Joe

One of the best duos Fire has ever seen, Otis and Cruz's relationship can best be summed up with the phrase "best friend magic" — the phrase they used with each other. Season 8, Episode 9 — which took place after Otis's death — was even named for their relationship ("Best Friend Magic"); audiences watched a drone recording from when the two buddies had successfully launched a flying video camera and used the phrase.  

The two had plenty of sweet moments throughout the show, though: They were roommates — Otis comically assumed they'd share a one-bedroom when they first started apartment hunting in Season 2, Episode 17 ("When Things Got Rough") — and they always looked out for each other. 

In Season 5, Episode 20 ("Carry Me"), the duo searched for another roommate for their apartment and Brett immediately jumped at the offer. They weren't sure about having her in their apartment, but she fought them on it. "Just write down every question you would ask any other potential roommate, and if I pass, I get to move in," she pleaded. After a rough bout of questions, Brett finagled her way into getting all three of them parking permits, so they accepted her as their third roommate. 

Otis's Medical Fears

Chicago Fire Otis Recap Medical Care

In Season 4, Episode 19 ("I Will Be Walking"), Cruz spotted a large bruise on Otis's back. "Seriously dude you have a bruise the size of a breadbasket," he told his friend, worried. Otis sought out the medical advice of Brett, who encouraged him to see a doctor. "Are you saying I have cancer?" he said fearfully, but she reassured him that it was probably not a huge deal.

Otis visited Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) at Chicago Med, who ordered blood tests, increasing the firefighter's fears. "I read that easy bruising is a sign of leukemia," he said. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Halstead told him. Otis ended up leaving without getting his blood drawn and later lied to Brett, saying that he'd received a clean bill of health. 

Brett and Cruz soon teamed up to convince Otis to get the bloodwork done and, in Episode 21 ("Kind of a Crazy Idea"), Halstead broke the news that Otis would need to receive immediate treatment for his leukemia.

Chicago Fire Otis Recap Chief Wallace

Otis told Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker) about the diagnosis and teared up, saying that his dad died of leukemia and he was terrified to follow that path. 

"I walk into a burning building and I know what I'm up against. But this? I'm in over my head here," he told Boden. 

Protecting Firehouse 51 Even While Injured

Otis's medical problems didn't end after his cancer went into remission. In Season 6, Episode 15 ("The Chance to Forgive"), Otis was shot in the ear when the family's stockpile of loaded guns and ammunition went off during a fire call. The entire squad watched as Brett and Dawson resuscitated him on the scene, and the doctors at Chicago Med said that Otis got lucky because the bullet barely missed his spinal cord. But, he needed surgery and was forced take time off from work to recover. 

In Episode 17 ("Put White On Me"), Otis began to be able to walk again, but still clearly had a long road ahead of him before he could return to firefighting. Boden visited him in the hospital and asked him to work a desk job in the bullpen, which upset Otis. "It'd be a favor to me," Boden assured him, and Otis eventually accepted the position so that he could be back at 51 while on leave. 

During that episode, the firehouse responded to a call and Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) saved a young boy from a pool electrical catastrophe, but the boy wouldn't tell rescuers his family's information. Otis met the boy and, after bonding with him a bit, got the full name of his father and was able to reunite the two. The boy's mother came to the firehouse later that day, yelling that the father "didn't have custody" and was "a lunatic," so she was going to sue the Chicago Fire Department. 

Otis took this to mean that he wasn't useful while injured, and he went to the house to apologize to the mother. Through some sleuthing he ended up figuring out that the family was attempting to frame the CFD to get a settlement. He took a photo of the two parents, who were happily together, to prove their lie and thereby saved the department from a lawsuit. 

Otis's Tragic Death and Memorial 

At the end of Season 7, in Episode 22 ("I'm Not Leaving You"), Firehouse 51 was called to respond to a giant mattress warehouse fire. Before entering, Herrmann said that mattress factory fires were particularly hard to battle, and told the squad they were going to "take a beating." The fire's intensity put everyone's life in danger and the season ended on a shot of a pressure valve exploding, leaving audiences unsure which Firehouse 51 crew members would make it out alive. 

In the Season 8 premiere ("Sacred Ground"), it was revealed that Otis was fatally injured in the fire. Cruz discovered his body when he heard Otis's safety alarm going off and rushed him out of the building to the hospital. Otis's last words to Cruz were in Russian, but translated to "Brother, I will be with you always." 

At the end of the episode, Boden revealed a memorial statue dedicated to Otis and gathered the whole team to see it. "Brian Zvonecek was our brother. He was our friend, he was a hell of a firefighter. He was smart, funny, kind, he was unselfish, and he was loyal," the Chief said.